Review by Booklist Review
Dumplin' (2015) meets Roswell, New Mexico in this collaboration from two powerhouse authors. Chicky Quintanilla and Lita Perez were childhood best friends, but Chicky pulled away, unable to tell Lita that she's pansexual. Lita's got a different secret: she's part of the meteorite that gave their New Mexico town its name, and the stars will soon be reclaiming her. But as the town's annual Miss Meteor pageant approaches, they reconnect. Though it's always the white girls, not the Latinx ones, who win the pageant, Lita dreams of competing. For Chicky, whose biggest bully, Kendra, is the favorite, coaching Lita to victory is the best revenge she can imagine. It will only take the help of Chicky's former-contestant sisters popular trans boy Cole (Lita's friend--and Kendra's brother); and Junior, the boy Chicky can't admit her feelings for. Together, McLemore and Mejia tell a warmly inclusive story rooted in the bonds of family and in female friendship. For anyone who's ever felt like an outsider, this joyful #OwnVoices tale will fill a void.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: McLemore is a decorated YA author who has been stunning fans since their Morris-winning debut, Weight of Feathers. Meanwhile, Mejia made a huge splash with her debut, We Set the Dark on Fire. Together, they'll draw quite a crowd.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Meteor Central High sophomores Estrellita "Lita" Perez and Chiquita "Chicky" Quintanilla are ex-best friends unexpectedly reunited for the same goal: winning the annual Miss Meteor beauty pageant in Meteor, N.Mex. Lita, the free-spirited daughter of town witch Bruja Lupe, has always dreamed of becoming Miss Meteor; after all, she's from the meteor whose crash-landing gave the town its name. But she's beginning to turn into stardust, and a traumatic, racist bullying incident diverted her pursuit of her dream--until now. Nonconformist Chicky also has a secret, which tore a past friendship apart and currently affects her relationship with artistic Junior Cortes. Fed up with feeling small, however, she comes up with a plan: help Lita steal the crown from beauty pageant royalty and mean girl Kendra Kendall. With the help of Chicky's runner-up older sisters and Kendra's brother, kind-hearted Cole, Lita takes on the thin, white blondes who always win. A dual perspective brings both girls to life, and casual, genuine pansexual and trans representation, along with a racially diverse cast, adds nuance. An inclusive story brimming with tenderness for its characters while championing love and self-acceptance. Ages 14--up. Agents: (for Mejia) Taylor Martindale, Full Circle Literary Agency; (for McLemore) Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Sept.)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up--Once upon a time, Lita "turned from star-stuff thrown off a meteor into a girl" and became "to everyone around" the daughter of the local curandera Bruja Lupe. That meteor gave the New Mexico town its name--yes, Meteor--as well as the inspiration for the most coveted title around, the eponymous "Miss Meteor." For eons, girls like Kendra--blonde, thin, and did they have to be so mean?--have always been anointed. This year though, Lita, "a brown girl with baby fat," is "shaking things up" because she needs that crown to make her whole…literally: Only winning the pageant can halt her turning back into stardust. Reenter ex-BFF Chicky. Despite the estrangement that should never have been, Chicky--aided by her three glamorous older sisters--will figure out how to guide Lita back to earth. Two prolific Latinx audio favorites take turns with the dual narrative: Softer, rounder-voiced Almarie Guerra is searching, longing Lita; confident, clipped Kyla Garcia is self-proclaimed "tomboy" Chicky. VERDICT This magical realism--sprinkled tale is for fans of Dumplin'.--Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC
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Review by Horn Book Review
In the small town of Meteor, New Mexico, a social highlight of the year is the Miss Meteor pageant. Latinx sophomore Lita, who's being raised by a healer known as Bruja Lupe, feels out of place and believes she fell to Earth over fifty years ago with the meteor for which the town is named ("I don't remember the moment I turned from star-stuff thrown off a meteor into a girl...No one really remembers being born"). When Lita decides to enter the pageant to break the streak of tall, blonde, white winners, she knows she is a long shot to win the title, and she knows she will need her more practical former friend Chicky's help to get ready for the elaborate talent, swimsuit, and evening gown contests. Chicky hopes to help her family's diner by bringing home a cut of the prize money, so she agrees to participate, despite her estrangement from Lita. An underdog crew is born -- Chicky and her sisters, Chicky's best friend Junior, and Cole, the trans brother of the odds-on favorite to win the pageant -- and all grow to be themselves more comfortably as Lita learns pageant skills. The novel's chapters alternate between Chicky's realistic tale of struggling with openness about her sexuality and Lita's magical realism-tinged story about feeling as though she is made of stardust and will soon disappear. Occasionally, the chapters feel disjointed, as the two narrators' voices are so different. But readers will be drawn into this story of an unlikely beauty queen and an unusual town. Christina L. Dobbs September/October 2020 p.101(c) Copyright 2020. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Can a small town embrace the wholeness of four teens: a self-proclaimed tomboy, a transgender athlete, a brilliant artist, and a girl born from stardust? In Meteor, New Mexico, the annual Meteor Regional Pageant and Talent Competition Showcase is a major attraction for Miss Meteor contestants and the local businesses that depend on tourism to survive. The Quintanilla family runs a diner with their four daughters. Chicky, the youngest, could not care less about the pageant while her ex--best friend, Lita, has always dreamed of such an honor--even though thin, blond, White girls always seem to win. The estranged friends team up and, with help from their friends Junior and Cole and the Quintanilla sisters, hatch a plan to upset the town's social hierarchy by helping Lita compete in the pageant. Drama ensues that characterizes the best telenovelas: unrequited love, bullies and popular mean girls, town gossips, and, of course, a curandera. Underneath there lies a heartfelt response to White supremacy, especially as it relates to brown bodies. Extended metaphors of stardust and space magic could grow tired in less capable hands, but they work powerfully in Mejia and McLemore's descriptions of teenage emotional urgency when courage can be as a fleeting as a shooting star. Most main characters are Latinx; Cole is White. A love letter to misfits who have been scared to let their stardust shine. (Magical realism. 12-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.